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The village of Moshupa almost became the venue for the launch of the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) but a show-of-hands vote moved the venue farther west.
There is a never that much of an issue about where Botswana political parties hold their national meetings but BPF and Moshupa would certainly have been a combustible mix. BPF is the new party that has been formed by former president, Ian Khama, and Moshupa is the home village of President Mokgweetsi Masisi. The two men grew up together in Botswana’s first most prestigious residential address – Extension 5 in Gaborone – and decades later Khama made Masisi his third Vice President. However, they are now bitter rivals and Khama formed BPF for the purpose of ousting Masisi from power. Moshupa would thus not have been the ideal location for the launch of a party formed to bring down its famous son.
According to a BPF source, three names were suggested for the launch venue: Serowe, Moshupa and Kanye.
“Serowe was deemed controversial because there was a very strong sentiment that its choice would excite loose tribal talk,’ says the source.
Technically, Serowe is Khama’s home village because it is where his father (founding president Sir Seretse Khama) originates and was where two meetings to form the party were held. Khama himself was born in England, grew up in Gaborone and has never lived in Serowe, which is the royal seat of power for the Bangwato traditional leadership that Khama assumed in 1979. On account of these dynamics, BPF has been overly associated with not just Serowe but Bangwato. Khama himself reinforced that impression because he called the Serowe meetings in his capacity as Bangwato Paramount Chief.
Says the source: “Moshupa was rejected outright because its choice would have been seen by some as act of provocation because it is the president’s home village.”
As happens at meetings of this nature, reason alone was not enough and the matter came to a point where it had to be settled by a show-of-hands vote. Most hands were shown in support of holding the official launch in Kanye.
Historically, places welcome the opportunity to host national party meetings because they stand to benefit financially. However, not everybody in Kanye is happy with BPF being launched in the village and some see the launch as an act of provocation. The latter see BPF as a Bangwato party and don’t understand why it has to be launched in a Ngwaketse village which, unlike Serowe, was never consulted about its formation.
The launch is also dividing the Ngwaketse tribal administration leadership. After Kgosi Malope II turned down an invitation to welcome delegates to the village as a featured speaker, Khama went behind his back to work on ward headmen, effectively turning them against their Kgosi. Sunday Standard’s information is that the headmen in question almost aligned themselves with the BPF had they not been privately reprimanded on Thursday. A kgotla meeting held the following day gave tribespeople an opportunity to also caution them against dabbling in party politics.